Chatter: Obama will give diplomacy a chance in Syria, for now




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I say intervention, you say diplomacy... let's call the whole thing off. US President Barack Obama has postponed a vote by Congress on whether to authorize the use of force in Syria, while the world examines whether there isn't a less air-strike-y solution to the crisis. In a televized address to the nation last night, Obama said he was willing to wait and see if a Russian proposal to oversee the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons produced verifiable results — but would be keeping the military on standby nonetheless.

The thing is, there's not much to verify right now. The closest thing to a concrete proposal so far was the draft UN resolution submitted to the Security Council by France, only to be shot down by — you guessed it — Russia. Apparently Moscow didn't like the clause about Syria declaring its full chemical stockpile within 15 days or facing consequences. So how else can we be sure that the Syrian government will comply? And what would Russia rather see instead? As the world clings to the magic solution that has yet to prove it's not just illusion, GlobalPost rounds up who wants what — and what they'll do to get it.


The worst anniversary. For 11 years, September 11 was the day that Americans remembered the deadliest terrorist attack on US soil. But in 2012, the day acquired an extra, terrible weight: when armed militants assaulted the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, it also became the day of one of the worst — and most divisive — terrorist attacks on Americans abroad.

Twelve years after the World Trade Center attacks, and one year on from the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, the region so closely bound up with both events and their aftermath, the Middle East, is in turmoil. (Just this morning, a car bomb targeted a Libyan foreign ministry building in Benghazi.) It's no coincidence. On America's darkest day, GlobalPost traces the long shadow from 9/11 to today's Syria, and remembers the man who would have understood it better than anyone: late US Ambassador Chris Stevens.

The Delhi four await their fate. The men convicted yesterday of fatally gang-raping a 23-year-old woman aboard a Delhi bus are in limbo. Hate figures for most of India, victims of a miscarriage of justice according to their lawyers, the four are waiting to learn what their punishment will be. Sentencing hearings began today, and adjourned with the judge saying their fate would be pronounced on Friday.

It is, quite literally, a matter of life and death: the prosecution has, as demanded by the victim's family, demanded that they be hanged. The next hearing is due on Friday afternoon.

Save the rainforest. Please. There's added urgency to the plea now that newly released satellite pictures suggest that Brazil's deforestation of the Amazon has rocketed in the past year. If the data is confirmed, it's proof that more than 1,000 square miles — an area more than twice the size of Los Angeles — was stripped of trees between August 2012 and July 2013.

That's particularly worrying since Brazil was meant to be a good news story: just last year, Amazon deforestation was shown to be at a record low after a concerted effort to rein in the loggers, farmers and miners who value land over trees. If Brazil has dropped its guard, that achievement will prove short-lived.


Need to escape a hungry polar bear? There's an app for that. We're not sure what one lucky Canadian did with his cellphone to make a looming predator scamper off but whatever it was, someone patent it, quick. Garett Kolsun, 40, claims to have fought off a 300-pound polar bear in the streets of Canada's "bear capital" of Churchill, Manitoba, by whipping out his device just long enough to distract the beast and make a run for it. (Beat that, iPhone 5S.)

Kolsun indeed escaped, though not unharmed. "I heard he was bit in the ass," one laconic Churchillian said. Hey, what do you expect if you whoop a polar bear at Angry Birds?